Sunday, July 26, 2015

SA(S)R Syndrome Moves On

Short-Attention-Span-Radicalism has quickly recovered from its setback in Greece,  finding solace in  its own unique spin on Joe Hill's supposed last words-- "Don't mourn, Don't organize; Forget, Ignore, Repeat." The SARs brigade made up of VIBs; SIPs; near, neo, quasi, democratic, semi, hemi, demi, erratic, mo, po, po-mo socialists is done sitting shiva for Greece and has moved on to its next challenge, its once and future failure, Britain.

"Greece?  Oh, that's so yesterday. Greece? What did you expect?  Greece?  We told you it wasn't a revolutionary situation," say our SARs.  "We're over Greece."

The VIB, Richard Seymour, is once again waxing, and waning, eloquent in this demonstration of obsessive-compulsive behavior, this repetition in the service of failure.  Opining on the candidacy of Jeremy Corbyn for the leadersip of Britain's Labour Party, Seymour writes that Corbyn is the candidate the Conservative Party most fears.  Absolutely correct, but the Tory fear is miniscule compared to that of the Labour Party itself.  Seymour points out that the right-bloc of the party threatens a split, a coup, collective suicide, but not yet car bombings, if Corbyn wins.

Panicked by the flood of new members into the party, the "right bloc" [if such a thing can be said to exist in this party] has called for the election to be suspended until a proper check of the credentials of the new members can be vetted, highlighting how dangerous becoming the majority really is to the right-bloc of the Labour Party.

John Mann, Labour MP, has written that the election "threatens to become a farce" due to the return to the party of "some of the Militant-Tendency types," proving once again that Labour may be "a big house" but it's a mortgaged big house,  a sub-prime ARM with a big fat balloon payment callable at the whim of the bankers.

Corbyn, loyal first and last, says he only wants "genuine Labour supporters"  Says Corbyn, "I only want people to register as Labour supporters if they are genuine supporters and intend to stay for the longer course."  Word.

Really?  Sure thing.  Seymour says:
So, Corbyn could win.  This does not mean that I am going to pay my £3 and join up as a 'supporter' in order to vote for Corbyn.  There's quite a lot of bandwagon-hopping at the moment - it was the same with the Greens last year - and joining the Labour Party just to have a vote and then leaving is pointless.  Why vote for Corbyn if you're not going to hang around and try to support him and try to reconstitute the Labour Party?  He'll be weak enough against the established power of the old right-wing bureaucracy, without a big chunk of his base fucking off the day after the polls close.  Corbyn will not win by pulling in outside forces who have no interested in the Labour Party's long-term future, and no identification with it; he will win by shaking up the Labour Party, and drawing in new members who are just becoming politicised. 
Indecisiveness is essential to the manifestation, and maintenance of SAR syndrome, so a paragraph or so later, we get:
However, that tactical point doesn't change the overall situation, and it doesn't mean we don't have a responsibility to support Corbyn's bid...It's not just the Labour Left that is weak.  It is the Left as a whole.  Yes, Corbyn would be relatively isolated at the top, and top-heavy successes are extremely vulnerable.  Yes, he will be trying to shift the balance of forces in favour of the Left, in a situation in which our forces are incredibly depleted. But it is a structural aspect of today's situation that in the growing vacuum created by the breakdown of the old party-base relationship, individuals and groups can suddenly project influence well beyond their actual social basis, if what they say finds an ideological resonance in lived experience.  We don't get to change that just be force of will.  So we have to work with the grain of our few advantages.  Corbyn has made a breakthrough, and that presents opportunities that it would be stupid and irresponsible to opt out of.
 Well, what do you know?  What can you say,  after you say: 

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.

To market, to market, to buy a fat hog,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog.

To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done

We can say: "let's try this"-- Everywhere in Seymour's article for the words Tory, Conservative, Tories, substitute New Democracy; for the word Labor, substitute PASOK, for Corbyn substitute Syriza or Tsipras (your pick).  Now read it again.  Does this sound familiar?  To those not (yet) infected with SARs (no guarantees as to anyone's "natural" immunity), it should.  

For our VIP bogger, not so much. It must be  the deep shock of Syriza's capitulation, a "world-historic" defeat that compels Seymour into one more iteration of repetition in the service of failure.  However, if it really is a "world-historic defeat" then surely it deserves an analysis, an explanation, an examination, something more material than the pathetic sentimentality Seymour has provided. 

Or maybe-- maybe the so yesterday events in Greece aren't a defeat at all, a position advanced by Panitch and Gindin and echoed oddly or not by Insurgent Notes, which after producing a single article in 2010, couldn't muster another examination of the struggle in Greece until this -- seven paragraphs in half-an-article, which more rather than less, dismisses the events, as its author later makes explicit in his comments, as not amounting to a reversal to the struggle against capitalism in Greece, Europe, the globe.   

I wish I could say I'm surprised by this lack of insight, the superficiality of analysis, the disavowal of  and disdain for the struggle in Greece promoted by Insurgent Notes.  I am not.  So-called "left communism"can be just as much leftism as anything and anyone else-- concerned with its own status, its own credentials, its own package.

There has been a reversal in Greece.  The struggle against capitalism has suffered a defeat.  Still, history hasn't come to an end.  It's not quite yet over in Greece.  Greece 2015 is not yet Chile 1973.  It's not yet time to move on and plan the next disaster.   The class struggle in Greece deserves better treatment. 
July 26, 2015


  1. Some updates (26/7/15):

    On July 14th, the first of the assemblies of workers and unemployed (see entry for 18th July above) was held in Syntagma Square, with just 100 people actively participating. The others in the square were mainly bemused tourists clicking their cameras, and sticking the English-language leaflets in their bags along with their plastic models of the Parthenon and all the other souvenirs. What they made of text like “We spit on the “humanitarian aid” offered to us by local and the international capitalists and the political personnel that represents them. We are not beggars, we do not need them; they are the ones who are still here thanks to our own “humanism” and the coercive labour time that we provide them with.” is anyone’s guess (guesses anyone? I can only think of “I just love those radical leaflets – they’re so genuine Greek”, but I’m sure most of you reading this can think of something better….? )

    2 days before the 5th July referendum Syriza had amassed 150,000 people in the square to declare their undying opposition to the Troika’s demands. 10 days or so later, and where were these courageous souls? They’d been marched to the top of the hill and then marched right down again. Predictably, those who look to hope from an external force invariably get demoralised by those they’d pinned their hopes on.

    As a result of this excellent initiative of having an explicitly radical assembly, some of the crowd went off and sabotaged some ticket machines in the metro station, so that people could travel for free. They also occupied the University photocopy place and produced massive amounts of texts for free.

    On 23rd July self-reduction took the form of 150 or so punks getting on a train to a punk festival without tickets. The director called the riot cops and at the other end they were all arrested. But despite setbacks like this, it seems that there are some fairly spontaneous moves towards the kind of auto-reductions that became popular in 2011 during resistance to electricity hikes and the housing tax added to electricity bills.

    Meanwhile, our favourite communisator – Woland – resigned, along with Varoufakis, about 10 days ago (mid-July) following Syriza’s about-turn after the referendum. He twittered this brief explanation “I resign because I don’t agree with the new agreement”. This in no way means the guy has even a minimum of integrity – when he was a minister he was already preparing the privatisation of some ports for a Chinese company, and also developing a programme of railway privatisations. Since 40 Syriza MPs out of a total of 150 voted against the new measures, it’s clear that the Syriza ship is heading for the rocks. Though it’s entirely unpredictable how this internal crisis within Syriza is played out, Woland, like Varoufakis, is predictably jumping ship to yet another political career.

    1. Best news I've heard or read in a long time. "We spit on the 'humanitarian aid-- indeed. Everything we need to know about taking the first step for revolutionary struggle is right there: "we spit on the 'humanitarian aid'-- offered by rippers, sociopaths, financiers (forgive the redundancy) in order to further their prospects for ripping.

    2. Anonymous4:01 PM

      (Matt) I would take the money AND spit on them. Spit on them and then take their money in that order. Whatever would be more insulting.

    3. From Sam, and well worth the read:

    4. The above link no longer work, as the footnotes weren't copied (for technical reasons). The text has now been reproduced as a separate page:
      "The big deception" -